one of the litters of puppies that I had decided was the one that I wanted to put a deposit on was lost to Pyometra. Can anyone on this board give me information about this condition and what causes it?
According to Dr. Peggy Root:
Pyometra is a serious uterine disease in dogs, in which an abnormal uterus becomes infected and filled with pus. Although the disease may present acutely, it is a chronic disorder that develops slowly, with no clinical signs, over a long period of time. The first stage of disease is development of an abnormality of the uterine lining called cystic endometrial hyperplasia (CEH). This change develops slowly over time due to repeated heat cycles and is an aging change present to some degree in all older female dogs by 5-6 years of age. The abnormal uterus is more easily infected.
The normal dog vagina is not sterile. The cervix, which connects the uterus and vagina, is open during heat, allowing bacteria to move from the vagina to the uterus. After heat, the cervix closes, trapping bacteria within the uterus. E. coli is the most common organism cultured from dogs with pyometra.
Dogs with pyometra usually are more than 5-6 years of age, and present with signs of disease within 1-12 weeks of finishing heat. Clinical signs include depression, lack of appetite, vomiting, and increased thirst and urination. If the cervix is open, pus will pass from the uterus through the vagina. If the cervix is closed, the uterus and abdomen will enlarge.
Pyometra is diagnosed by demonstrating uterine enlargement either by abdominal palpation, ultrasound, or radiographs. Bloodwork should be done to assess white blood cell number, which usually is elevated. Kidney function must also be assessed, since kidney disease often occurs secondary to pyometra.
The best treatment for pyometra is ovariohysterectomy (spay). The bitch is cured by removing the infected uterus, and should also be supported with fluids and antibiotics. Medical therapy for pyometra is only considered in young dogs that are valuable in a breeding program, have an open cervix with vaginal discharge, and have no evidence of kidney disease. Medical therapy cures infection but will not cause resolution of the underlying CEH, so the bitch is predisposed to pyometra after every subsequent heat. We strongly recommend ovariohysterectomy as the best treatment for pyometra in dogs.
I just went through something simlar.
My bitch was palpated with 8 puppies at 4weeks of pregnancy. But she only delivered 2. She had an odd discharge and I took her in. The culture came back with "Proteus". Apparently this is one of the really bad gram negative bacterias that cause pyometra. We got her on antibiotics and she is fine now. But I did some reading up on this stuff as my vet said it was nasty. From what I read it swarms onto a certain part of the body. Most commonly the bladder and urinary tract. It can be caused by decomposing material, polluted water and even feces. I don't think my girl had any problem with feces as she is not a kenneled dog and lives in the house. I do have a ornamental pond that she likes to go in when she's hot ( not any more, if I can help it!) and it may have been helped long by the other puppies dying and being absorbed.
Another interesting fact is that it causes congenital defects in males! This makes total sence to me as the 2 pups she had were females and it would have been a very typical litter for my male ( the sire) to have 6 males and 2 females.
Don't know if that helps or not.
Does this condition run in the genetics?
Nope - common condition in intact bitches of every breed and mixes. Just a feminine problem. Older intact bitches will often get severe pyo and have to be spayed to save their lives. Vets use this problem as an example why bitches should be spayed.
THIS IS NOT GENETIC AT ALL. UNKNOWN REASONS CAUSE THIS INFECTION OR DISEASE IN BITCHES, BUT CAN BE FATAL!
Infection in the lining of the uterus is established as a result of hormonal changes. Following oestrus ("season", or "heat"), hormone levels remain elevated for 8-10 weeks to prepare the uterus for, and maintain, pregnancy. If pregnancy does not occur the lining continues to increase in thickness until cysts form in the walls. This thickened cystic lining secretes fluids which are ideal for bacteria to thrive in. The wall of the uterus is also inhibited in its ability to contract and remove the cystic fluid. When infected by bacteria this fluid becomes pus. Sometimes the fluid becomes purrulent without bacteria being present.
This situation tends to become more intense as the bitch gets older, particularly if she has not been used for breeding. This explains why this condition usually effects older dogs. It can, however, occur in dogs of any age. Pyometra can be a possible complication of the use of hormonal treatments, for example when used as contraceptives, or to treat misalliance, and this is one of the main causes in younger bitches.
The cervix is the gateway to the uterus. It remains tightly closed except during a season or when giving birth. When it is open bacteria that are normally in the vagina can enter the uterus very easily. If the uterus is normal, the environment will not encourage bacterial survival, however when the uterine wall is thickened or cystic, perfect conditions exist for bacterial growth.
The typical timing for the disease is 1-2 months after your bitch has been in season.
Clinical Signs and Diagnosis
The clinical signs will depend on whether or not the cervix is open.
If open, pus will drain from the uterus through the vagina to the outside. It is often noted as a purrulent (pusy), bloody discharge on the skin and hair under the tail or on bedding and furniture where the dog has laid. It may or may not have an odour. Fever, loss of appetite and depression may or may not be present.
If the cervix is closed, pus that forms is not able to drain to the outside. It collects in the uterus, which will cause an apparent swelling of the abdomen. The bacteria and pus in the womb release toxins, which are absorbed into the blood. These bitches will become very ill rapidly. They are off food, very listless, depressed, may vomit and have diarrhoea and will be drinking very excessively. The toxins will affect the kidney function and may cause permanent kidney failure in the bitch if the condition is not treated quickly. A blood test may be taken to estimate the damage to the kidneys before and after surgery. Efforts are made in treatment to minimize the risk of kidney damage.
A female dog which is not spayed, drinking an increased amount of water, has had a recent season and is unwell is always suspected of having a pyometra. If confirmation is required, such as with a closed pyometra, blood tests will show signs of severe infection, an increased no of white cells in the blood and signs of kidney failure. These are present in all very serious infections however, so an x-ray is often used for confirmation. This also has the advantage of being done immediately at the surgery, and will show if your bitch has a uterus which is full of pus. If the cervix is open there may be minimal uterine enlargement and x-rays are more difficult to interpret, however in this case the discharge from the vulva is usually diagnostic.
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